Gen. 21:1-7 Sarah Bears Isaac

Gen. 21:1 "And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken. 2 For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. 3 And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac. 4 And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac being eight days old, as God had commanded him. 5 And Abraham was an hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him. 6 And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me. 7 And she said, Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck? for I have born him a son in his old age."

To the above we make the following observations:

    1.  God keeps his promises and he does it exactly as he says he will. 

    2.  God restored both Abraham and Sarah to the time of life so that Sarah could bear a son.

    3.  God also gave seed to Sarah and Sarah conceived by the strength that God had given her.

    4.  The child was named Isaac in obedience to the command of God. 

    5.  The child was born at God's set time. 

    6.  Isaac was circumcised at eight days of age, just according to the commandment of God.

    7.  Sarah now readily admits that she had laughed at the idea of having a child at her age, but now in joy she knows that others will rejoice at the news of the great power of God who had restored her to the time of life and had given her seed and granted that a son would be born in hers and Abrahams old age.

    8.  The above illustrates that Isaac was a child of God's promise.  God promised a child a full year before he was born.  God caused the child to be born of parents who were unable to have children in their old age.  God restored the parents to the time of life and granted the child to be born in God's exact appointed time.  This corresponds to Gal. 4:28, "Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise."  We are promised to be born of the spirit of God before the foundation of the world.  Next, we are born of the Spirit contrary to our flesh nature which is dead in trespasses and sins.  Moreover, we are born spiritually at God's appointed time.  Our spiritual birth is according to God's sovereign power.  Additionally, joy is a fruit of the Spirit and God makes us to rejoice over our spiritual birth. 

Gen. 21:8-13 The Two Covenants

Gen. 21:8 "And the child grew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned. 9 And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking. 10 Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac. 11 And the thing was very grievous in Abraham's sight because of his son. 12 And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called. 13 And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed."

There should be no doubt that the above events took place just as the scriptures describe them to us.  Yet there is very much more contained in the message than just the natural occurrences.  Sometimes when we study the scriptures, great nuggets of truth are not revealed unto us until later on in the scriptures.  The scriptures are a progressive revelation of the great truths of God and his grace. 

First, we will examine the natural lessons in the above.  Weaning is a significant event in the development of a small child.  It is a break from the dependency of the child from its mothers milk to in some small way to begin to feed itself.  The Lord speaks to us in Isaiah of our need to advance spiritually from our dependency just upon the milk of the word: Isa. 28:9 "Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts." 

To acknowledge and celebrate this significant event in the life of Isaac, Abraham prepared a great feast for his son.  In the United States we celebrate people's birthdays as being some sort of milestone.  Often times we have feasts on a person's birthday.  In the bible times, people were more into celebrating significant events such as weaning, puberty, marriage, and significant national occurrences. 

When Sarah saw Ishmael the son of Hagar mocking her son Isaac, it angered her.  No mother would want someone else to mock her children.  She was especially outraged since Ishmael was the son of a bondwoman.  It is not appropriate in any culture for bondservants to mock the free.  Sarah's anger prompted her to tell Abraham to "Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac."  This upset Abraham because Ishmael was also his son.  He, no doubt, loved Ishmael as well as Isaac.  God, however, told Abraham to hearken unto the voice of Sarah, "for in Isaac shall they seed be called."  At the same time, God promised Abraham that he would take care of Ishmael and make him a great nation because he is Abraham's seed.

These natural occurrences lead us to the more significant spiritual parallels brought out to us in Gal. 4:22-31: 22 "For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. 24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. 25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. 26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. 27 For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. 28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. 29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. 30 Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. 31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free." 

An allegory is defined as symbolic work: a work in which the characters and events are to be understood as representing other things and symbolically expressing a deeper, often spiritual, moral, or political meaning. 

Abraham's two wives and two sons are symbolic of the two covenants of worship that God established.  The book of Galatians confronts the issue that some from the church at Judea had taught that the Gentile converts must be circumcised in order to be saved.  This error had taken root in the churches of Galatia which mostly consisted of Gentile converts.  This error was rooted in some wanting to bring over elements of the law covenant that God had made with the children of Israel in Mount Sinai and make it a requirement in New Testament worship. 

In the allegory, Abraham is typical of God and the two wives are typical of the two covenants of worship that God established.  We first notice that there are only two covenants of worship that God has ever established and will ever establish. 

The first covenant was given by God to the children of Israel at Mount Sinai.  It was a covenant that gendered to bondage.  The law required perfection and the children of Israel were not perfect and could not keep the law perfectly.  Failure to keep the law brought them under the curse of the law, hence bondage.  The law was not something that you could keep 90% of it and be okay.  The law required you keep 100% of it.  Failure to keep a single item of the law made you a transgressor of the law.  As we read in Gal. 3:10: "For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them."  The worshippers under the law were in bondage to the law.  They were bondservants to the law. 

The second covenant was given by Jesus Christ when he journeyed in the flesh here on earth: John 1:17 "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ."  True worship today is under the covenant of grace.  In this covenant our eternal salvation is by grace alone through the atoning blood of Christ.  This covenant of grace is the freewoman (just as Sarah was a freewoman).  Those who worship under the covenant of grace are free (just as Isaac was free).  The covenant of grace is free and the worshippers under the covenant of grace are free as well.  This covenant of grace is spelled out for us in Rom. 8:29, 30: "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.  Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified."

Next, Ishmael mocked Isaac.  But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.   Similarly the worshippers under the law covenant have always been the ones that persecuted the worshippers under the covenant of grace.  In Paul's day, the Pharisees and Sadducees persecuted the Lord's true worshippers to the death.  This continued on for about 1800 years when those who worshipped under some legalistic works system have persecuted the worshippers under the covenant of grace. 

"Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. 31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free."  This teaches us that as we worship today, we are not to bring in elements of the Old Law covenant into our practice of worship as that will lead us into bondage.  We are to cast out the Law Covenant as a means of worship and only worship as we are directed in the New Covenant of Grace given to us by Jesus Christ.